“Nolan’s 14” is an extreme ultra running event that summits 14 of Colorado’s 14,000 foot peaks in the Sawatch Mountain Range within a 60-hour time frame.
Begun as an unofficial event in 1999, it has enticed some of the most hardcore ultra runners each year.
On Aug. 18, Durangoan Missy Gosney and 2015 Hardrock 100 winner Anna Frost of New Zealand were the first women to complete Nolan’s.
Gosney’s introduction to ultra running began five years ago, but in that short time she has amassed an impressive résumé of accomplishments.
She credits her extensive mountaineering experience from 15 years of working for Outward Bound for providing that seamless transition.
“The transition from backpacking to ultra running was very natural,” Gosney said. “I was pretty amazed. “I had done some short-distance trail running, but to transition to longer distances – the backpacking, being on trails day after day made a huge difference for jumping into the ultra world.”
It all started when she met her husband Brett Gosney, who has been running ultras for more than 15 years.
“He got me excited about it and into it for sure,” she said.
Brett and Missy do almost all of their running together.
“Brett is such a big part of my running, we are the best training partners. It’s really nice to be able to do the thing you love with the person you love to do it with,” she said.
Her weekly training is understandably running intensive, building up endurance by increasingly adding mileage.
“The love of running and really committing to it is the first part of training and doing back-to-back days really make a difference for me,” she said.
She uses a training coach and, in addition to the running, attends classes about three times per week that mix cardio and small muscle work with weight and circuit training.
Caring for her body and being proactive in preventing potential injuries is also a high priority.
“I go to physical therapy and get a lot of recovery stuff and maintenance work done, so I don’t get injured,” she said.
There is a great deal of mental training involved in completing something such as Nolan’s. Missy believes being organized logistically and knowing where she is going and what she’s going to encounter is crucial to her success.
“It’s really about preparing for any specific event the best I can prior to showing up there,” she said. “Then when the unknown comes, I’m more able to go “Oh I have all this stuff planned.”
Ultra running is a man-heavy sport, and Missy admits it is intimidating to show up at a start line where there’s very few women.
“The women who participate in this sport are really inspiring and fun to be around, and they’re really helpful,” she said.
“Women are strong, we have the endurance. It’s that being patient and believing that you are able to do this that pays off,” she said. “I’ve climbed Denali, run 100’s, now I’ve done Nolan’s and I’ve given birth; when people ask me which one is harder I still believe giving birth is harder; that is an endurance activity.”
The opportunity to complete Nolan’s and at the same time give back something in the process came through with her former ties to Outward Bound. She raised over $3,500 for a girls scholarship fund.
“It turned out to be the perfect way to pull together a mountain run, my mountaineering experience and my history with Outward Bound and honor these people who have done great things for girls to get into the mountains,” she said.
Reach Marjorie Brinton at firstname.lastname@example.org.